Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Jack of All Crafts and Master of None Tries Weaving, Part 1

this was titled "Lowell Mill Girls" on the Emory University site.
Once upon a time in a land not so far away, a girl went to college. In this land, the field of Home Economics was not frowned upon as sexist and worthless, so this girl learned many intriguing skills with fibers. She learned to tat, she learned to knit fancy patterns, she learned clever tricks for the sewing of clothes. But her favorite, the one that stayed in her mind for years, was that of Weaving.

The loom was large, and the girl was fascinated. "Ah, if only I may be so fortunate as to put my bustle on and use a loom again in the future after I leave this place," she dreamed.

In later years the girl tried a small tabletop loom, but it was too small. She tried a rug loom, but alas it was too large and bulky. Then she received the Schacht Spindle Company's tapestry loom from her husband for Christmas and, you guessed it--it was *Just Right.*

Here's my Schacht Tapestry Loom hanging out in the guest/fiber-craft room. It's about two feet wide, but the size is no problem since we also bought the A-Frame stand for the loom. It adjusts to whatever angle is comfortable for use. And it's pretty all on its own and smells good, of freshly finished wood. So far, I love this company! I emailed them with a question and ended up having a lovely, helpful exchange with Denise.

One of my favorite things about any craft is reading up on it. I bought a book called Tapestry Weaving by Kirsten Glasbrook that got the best reviews on Amazon, and a dvd called Tapestry Weaving 1 by Nancy Harvey that's like a little class where the teacher takes you through three different projects to teach you different techniques.

Tapestry Weaving, the Schacht Tapestry Loom instructions, & Tapestry Weaving dvd.
My other favorite thing is gathering the bits and pieces needed to do the craft, in this case the fibers. I did my shopping in the guest/fiber-craft room stash. There is, let's just say, an "adequate" amount to shop in.

going with a green, blue & purple vibe for the first project.
In all fairness, when the loom first came I used some string to try warping it (those are the long threads that go top to bottom.) It's tricky till you get the hang of it--and in all fairness, I never really got the hang of it on that try.

So I followed the instructions to made the reusable heddles--those are the strings that lift every other warp yarn to make a basic over-under weave. The instructions showed a simple way to get them all the right size.
Using the heddle bar support to make reusable heddles. Then they all match! Imagine that.

This is the cool bunch of matching little tied strings I ended up with. Yes, I made them in bunches of 15 because I knew I would never keep track of the total otherwise.

And now to warp the loom. It does this cool "Magic Eye" thing while you're trying to do this, one of those, "is this in front or behind? Can I squint just right and make it into a picture?" This just adds to the thrill of the chase.

Okay! I'm finally starting to get the hang of it--4 inches into it. I still have another 11 inches to go.

Time for a nap. I'll keep you posted.

Skimmer's recap: julie likes crafts and things with yarn, and loves cool tools, but rarely wears her bustle anymore.

Basic article on weaving terms:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mother thoughts.

That's a very young me on the right, holding three-month-old Corinne, and my
mother Margie. "Windy Hill" is what my mother named the acreage in the midst
of wheat fields in Nebraska where she and my stepdad lived. 
 Ten years ago today my mother died. Two days later I found out.

Not the sort of mother/daughter relationship a friend of mine had where she lay in the hospital bed with her mother, cradling her in her arms as she died. But is that the typical bond between the daughter and the mom who nurtured her? I don't know. The relationship between my mother and me was anything but typical.

Her cancer had come back. She mentioned this to nobody, not even the Replacement Children in her more recent life in Nebraska, the three women of the approximate age of my sister and I. My sister and brother hadn't spoken to our mother in years, and though my dealings with her had grown more and more strained, I was still trying to keep in contact from states away. But I'd been replaced by less complicated relationships with those she hadn't birthed.

Her lawyer called me because a next-of-kin was needed to sign the cremation certificate. Without that need, would I have heard at all? I suppose I would have figured it out once the boxes of my mother's "treasures" started arriving, filled with items from her life, all with notes attached. The notes must be nostalgiac explanations of the when and where of the items, you might think--wrongly. No, the notes explained my failings as related to each item, and were dated and initialed, apparently so I would be aware of the many years she'd been planning this After-Death-Surprise for me.

I was destroyed by the box after box of Post-It noted pieces of her life. How could the mother who gave birth to me and who was supposed to love me without condition and protect me be the one who attacked, who torpedoed my personal worth? How could the woman seen in happy photos with my baby be this cruel person?

Therapy followed, since my wise husband could see me falling down a deep, dark hole. It saved my life and my sanity. For years I had tried to make sense of this woman who could be so bright and happy sometimes and so mean and hurtful others. I won't ever know what all was at play in her head or heart, what undiagnosed illness she may have had. I can see from here that she was always at a distance from me emotionally, and her happiness or unhappiness really had nothing to do with me. I wanted her happiness to be because of me, but I think she was much more at the mercy of whatever demons lived in her head.

I've kept some of the things she sent--in fact, some are still tucked away in the same boxes they arrived in. These items and their notes hold a fascination for me, since I still wonder at the workings of her mind. What did it feel like to live inside her head? What ruled her, what drove her decisions? Was there an underlying sadness like I thought I saw at some times in her life, or was that just me trying to make sense of what couldn't?

Humor doesn't come easily around this subject, even though humor has always been my friend. One small smile that's come of it is that my mother even died on a date I can never forget. "Jean loved house numbers with 1s in them," she had told me about my stepfather. Her address had recently been redone by the county and now included 1s. Why my brain chose that bit of information to remember, I don't know. But when she died on 1/11/01, I muttered to the bit of her that lives in my head, "Hah! I bet you planned that."

So on this date I remember her with a mixture of fondness and sadness, much like my life with her played out. I'm finally learning that our relationship makes as much sense to me as weather, and was simply what it was: somedays thunderstorms, somedays sunshine. And I think I've learned from both.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

New Year's Anti-Resolutions, OR, Things I've Learned from New Year's Resolutions.

i am the first person at the end of the year to make a resolution for the new year--that of NOT making any resolutions. Why should i resolve to become organized in the new year, or thin, or to save more money? Why should i make a big statement that i am destined to fail?

Negative, you say? My hubby calls it "being a realist" when i accuse him of being negative. i'm borrowing that for the moment.

It's called "knowing myself." Big statements do not work for this girl. i have always moved at a slower, more casual pace than many others. i'm a big believer in the "don't sweat it" style of being. Not that i don't have my convictions--i do, it's more that i have always had the tendency to beat myself up for my perceived failings. "You idiot" is at the ready in my brain when i make a mistake. "You slob" is waiting to pop into my head when i look around at the casual mess of my space. (Which is exactly what happens when you don't sweat it.)

This year, i think i'll put into place the things i've learned from New Year's Resolutions past:

*i will correct myself just like i would correct my children when i hear "idiot" and "slob" and such words in my head. NO NAME CALLING!! Certainly if i work to avoid calling people names in traffic, i can at least extend the same courtesy to myself, right?

*Frankly, my "getting organized" isn't as much of a problem as KEEPING organized. Well, really, they both go against my nature. i am a visual person--i tend to forget things if they are out of sight (in that perfectly organized world.) Therefore i will accept this and try to work with it. i will have pretty things out to pile things in, creating decorative messes. i will continue to work toward a paper organizing system that works for ME, and i'm pretty sure that will also include pretty containers.

*i will accept that i love to start things before i finish the last project. i am fickle. Today i want to knit, but tomorrow i may want to use my new loom. It is what it is. Again, i think decorative containers may play a part.

*i will accept that i am a jack of all trades and master of none. i have fought this for years, calling myself names when i can no longer limit myself to one thing, like writing. God made me the creative disaster i am, He knows i love many things. Writing makes me happy. Fibers make me happy. Scrapbooks make me happy. i'm sure i'd be tidier if i had fewer hobbies......HAHAHAHAHAAA!!!  No.

*i know more about diets than most, because i've been on most diets. Do they work? Not generally, but they make for good reading.

***This year i will focus on making a better choice one choice at a time.

i will not resolve to become thin, i will choose to eat healthier each time i eat.

i will not resolve to become wealthy, each time i think i need that beautiful skein of yarn or pack of scrapbook stickers i will choose to pause and ask "do i need it," and maybe the answer will be "no." If i then put that money in savings, will it add up? i bet it will.

i will think more and treat myself less. This includes purchases, foods, even the most sacred of all, chocolate.

i will keep working one choice at a time toward organization in small ways: putting "like with like" (no more chasing the cell phone chargers etc through the entire house,) and choosing to put things away where they go.

If i bring something INTO the house, something else must go out--- hahahahaa! i can dream.

i will choose to work within the realities of ME. And i choose to take on this new year of 2011 one choice at a time. (It's less scary that way.)

Skimmer's recap: Not so big on resolutions. How about you? Are you a resolution maker? If so, what kinds of things do you resolve to do?